About the Ride
Where do Motorcyclists Fit In
Motorcycle Around the Sesquicentennial
Recap of John Brown’s Attack
During the night of October 16, 1859 Brown lead a band of followers that attempted and failed to seize the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. VA. and to arm slaves and abolitionists in an insurrection that would establish a new government under his leadership. They marched the six miles from the Kennedy Farm in Washington County, Md. crossing the railroad bridge into Harpers Ferry and seized control of the area. But because Brown permitted a train to pass (eventually reaching Frederick, Md.), a telegram notifying the army of the attack enabled soldiers to respond before Brown could accomplish his goal. Prior to being captured, he and his “army of liberation” seized the Armory and several other strategic points. Thirty-six hours after the raid begun, with most of his men killed or wounded, Brown was captured in the Armory fire engine house (now known as “John Brown’s Fort”) when U.S. Marines stormed the building.
In December 1859, he was hanged in Charles Town, VA. (now WV) for his attack. It is generally agreed this event started the country rolling towards an all out civil war. After his attack - and Brown’s trial and hanging - emotions ran so high that armed conflict became an inevitable outcome. An interesting side note: John Wilkes Booth (the assassin of Abe Lincoln) was in Charles Town the day of and before the hanging.